He stood at the top of the stairs

Jane Clarke

insisting he could go down himself but,
like a frightened bullock refusing
the crush, his body wouldn’t move

from the spot where I used to sit
in the dark listening to rows in the kitchen
when my mother showed him the bill

from the shop. He stood at the top
of the stairs in a fever that came on him
as fast as nightfall in winter,

steep, narrow steps between him
and the ambulance ticking
outside the back door.

He stook there in checked pyjamas
and thick Wellington socks,
in the house where he was born

and had sworn he would never leave.
I held him from behind,
my brother in front

coaxing with a tenderness
I’d never seen between them,
come on Dad, just one step, one step. 

Page 106, Poetry Ireland Review Issue 121
Issue 121

Poetry Ireland Review Issue 121:

Edited by Eavan Boland

Eavan Boland's first issue as editor of Poetry Ireland Review aims to encourage a conversation about poetry which is  'noisy and fractious certainly ... but a conversation nevertheless that can be thrilling in its reach and  commitment'. There are new poems from Thomas McCarthy, Jean Bleakney, Wendy Holborow, Paul Perry, Aifric Mac Aodha, and many others, while the issue also includes work from Brigit Pegeen Kelly, with an accompanying essay on the poet by Eavan Boland. Eavan Boland also offers an introduction to the work of poet Solmaz Sharif, while there are reviews of the latest books from Simon Armitage, Peter Sirr, Lo Kwa Mei-en, and Vona Groarke, among others. PIR 121 also includes Theo Dorgan's elegiac tribute to his friend John Montague – a canonical poet, in contrast to the emerging poets Susannah Dickey, Conor Cleary and Majella Kelly, who contribute new work and will also read for the Poetry Ireland Introductions series as part of ILFD 2017.